ConstructionPro Week, Volume: Construction Advisor Today - Issue: 136 - 12/02/2011

New Agreement Expected to Boost Use of GreenFormat

ICC Evaluation Service LLC (ICC-ES) and the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that is expected to increase awareness and use of GreenFormat, a CSI format that allows manufacturers to organize and report the properties of their products that affect sustainability. Designers, contractors, and building operators use GreenFormat to find products with properties that help them achieve their green goals.


ICC-ES currently references CSI’s MasterFormat and other formats in all of its evaluation reports. The MOU will add GreenFormat references. GreenFormat provides a uniform structure for manufacturers to report the sustainable properties of their products. It helps industry professionals evaluate the green characteristics of building products they are considering for their projects. The ICC-ES Sustainable Attributes Verification and Evaluation (SAVE) program provides manufacturers with independent verification that their products meet specific sustainability targets defined by existing codes, standards, and green-rating systems. The SAVE and PMG Listing programs both evaluate the compliance of products to a subset of GreenFormat attributes.

“This MOU recognizes the complementary nature of ICC-ES and CSI’s GreenFormat in the sustainable building sector and demonstrates added value to environmental reports,” said Rob Brooks, director of ICC-ES Environmental Programs. “While CSI provides a uniform structure for manufacturers to report the sustainable characteristics of their products through GreenFormat, ICC-ES provides evidence that products meet requirements of codes and green building standards.”

Added CSI Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Walter Marlowe: “GreenFormat identifies and organizes the sustainable attributes of building products. By collaborating with ICC-ES, it will help increase awareness and use of GreenFormat, particularly with products compliant to the 2012 International Green Construction Code so that professionals who select building products can make informed choices.”


Among the agreements included in the MOU are the following:


  • ICC-ES will add GreenFormat’s numbering scheme within new and existing ICC-ES Environmental Evaluation reports (Verification of Attributes Reports and Plumbing, Mechanical, and Fuel Gas Listings) for environmental attributes.
  • ICC-ES and CSI will work together to maintain the relationship between GreenFormat categories and the questions in the ICC-ES Environmental Evaluation reports as both are updated and add references to new reports.
  • CSI will present ICC-ES Criteria to the GreenFormat task team for consideration as appropriate product evaluation tests within GreenFormat.


In addition, ICC-ES and CSI intend to participate in each other’s technical committees, where applicable.

ICC-ES Official Provides Additional Details to GBI

In an email interview with Green Building Insider (GBI), ICC-ES Environmental Programs Director Rob Brooks provided the following additional details about the MOU:


GBI: When was the MOU signed?  When is this agreement due to expire, if at all?


Brooks: This MOU between ICC-ES and CSI went into effect on Nov. 2.  This agreement will remain in effect as applicable.


GBI: What are some examples of the sustainable properties and products that are reported through GreenFormat?  For example, are volatile-organic-compound levels from carpets reported through GreenFormat?

Brooks: ICC-ES’ Environmental Criteria for recycled content (EC 101) correlates with GreenFormat’s section 2.3, Sustainable Composition of Product. Both EC 101 and GreenFormat 2.3.3 apply to the evaluation of recycled content of the product. Recycled content is one of the most common sustainable attributes referenced in green building rating systems and codes…. 


GBI: Why is it so important for products to be IGCC compliant when IGCC has only been adopted in a few states and localities thus far?

Brooks: Manufacturers must be proactive to avoid technical obstacles related to product acceptance. Technical obstacles can surface due to incorrect IGCC interpretations and lack of technical substantiation for building products’ green attributes. Code officials who enforce the IGCC are less familiar with green attributes. Therefore, independent product acceptance reports such as those provided by ICC-ES help to educate both the manufacturer and the code official about the minimum acceptance requirements for the IGCC. These reports help to “build the capacity” for the construction community to further embrace green construction.


It will take time to build this capacity as ICC-ES has approximately 1,500 evaluation reports, and many of them would benefit from the added value of independent verification of green attributes. We can’t reissue a large number of reports overnight. With more consumers demanding to have green products, manufacturers should act sooner rather than later to avoid technical obstacles in the market. The MOU with CSI in advance of IGCC adoptions shows that ICC-ES is proactively working to connect the manufacturer not only to code officials but also to the specification community.


GBI: About how many manufacturers are expected to use GreenFormat and the ICC Evaluation Service in the coming year? What statistics, if any, can you provide about their use over the last year?


Brooks: ICC Evaluation Service expects to easily triple the number of environmental reports next year from 20 to 60. All reports will be listed using GreenFormat’s numbering as applicable per our agreement. Contact CSI for an estimate of GreenFormat usage.


GBI: How do the ICC-ES Environmental Program and GreenFormat differ from any comparable services that can be used to report and verify the green attributes of building products?


Brooks: ICC-ES Environmental Programs and CSI both want to make green attributes more transparent. There are enough unverified green claims in the market that both organizations believe that a comprehensive assessment of green attributes is needed. Other organizations tend to focus on specific markets such as LEED standards or CalGreen. ICC-ES and CSI are addressing a broad spectrum of green claims across green building documents such as the IGCC, ASHRAE 189.1, CalGreen, GBI, ICC-700 and LEED.


GBI: Other comments?


Brooks: ICC-ES environmental reports currently evaluate individual attributes such as recycled content, VOC emissions, bio-based content, solar reflectance, etc. Further efforts are under way to add capacity for more comprehensive environmental reports such as Environmental Product Declarations.




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